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Some tips for noncustodial parents after job loss

NEW YORK — A growing number of noncustodial parents are struggling to make child support payments because of a loss in income. Here are some tips from the experts:

File for a child support modification right away, said Lee Rosen, a divorce attorney in Raleigh, N.C. Many times parents wait too long thinking they are going to find another job quickly. By the time they get to court, they are out of money. A judge may grant a modification but it probably won't be retroactive.

Notify the custodial parent immediately, so he or she can make spending adjustments, said Rosen. Perhaps the children can be moved to a less expensive day care, for example.

Be persistent, especially if you don't have a lawyer, said Rosen. In some states, filing for a modification is like going to the driver's license office; there are all sorts of requirements.

Try to work out an agreement. It's far more preferable for ex-spouses to come up with their own arrangement, and then hire an attorney to submit the modification order to the court, said Ike Vanden Eykel, a divorce attorney in North Texas.

Remember the children. Spend time with them.